Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Website update...

I'm currently working with the web designer for my new site! I'm not positive when the migration of this blog will happen over to Wordpress, but it will likely be soon.

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Quick update...

Hey, everyone!

Just a quick update-I'm still working with my web designer, and I'll still be migrating my blog over to Wordpress.

She's also working on a new logo for me--I love what she's come up with so far!

We recently moved into a new house and have been super busy unpacking, so I haven't been around online much.

I'll keep you posted when I know more!

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Z is for Zia @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

The Zia Sun Symbol is commonly seen around New Mexico, even on their state flag. But where did it come from?

New Mexico's state flag, Picture from Wikipedia

The Zia people are an indigenous tribe, and they currently live on the Zia Pueblo outside of Albuquerque. 

The sun is considered a sacred symbol, and the Zia symbol design reflects the tribe's philosophy of harmony of all things in the universe.

There are four rays in four directions on the Zia Sun Symbol, meant to show the four points on the compass, four seasons of the year, the four seasons of life (childhood, youth, middle age, old age), and the four sacred obligations one must develop according to Zia belief (strong body, clear mind, pure spirit, and devotion to the welfare of others). 

The state flag of New Mexico (pictured above) has the red Zia on a field of Spanish yellow, symbolizing both parts of the state's culture and heritage.

I hope you've enjoyed these little snippets of New Mexican information! I've learned a lot about my new home (though there's a lot more out there) and I can't wait to explore my new home state. 

Happy A-Z-ing!

xoxo Sarah

Friday, April 29, 2016

Y is for Yucca @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

New Mexico's state flower is the yucca, and has been officially since 1927.

Yucca
Yucca Flower Photo by DM on Flickr
There are about 40-50 species (including perennials, shrubs, and trees) and none are actually specified as the state flower.

They're pollinated by a specific moth that goes from flower to flower and deliberately transfers the pollen from the stamen of one to the stigma of another, then lays eggs in the flower. The moth's offspring eat some of the developing seeds when they hatch.

Pretty cool, huh?

xoxo Sarah







Thursday, April 28, 2016

X is for Explora! @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

One of the most fun museums I've ever been to has to be Explora! (yes, it has exclamation points in its name), located on the west side of Albuquerque.

It's an interactive museum--all of the exhibits are things you can touch and play with.

Most of the topics are science and technology, and the different exhibits are fun to play with.

Want to learn about aerodynamics first-hand? Try and float various items on a stream of air!

Sound waves? Light? Gravity? Learn about all of these while interacting with objects and instruments.

Even better, Explora! has special events like Adult Night. If you've ever been to a science museum and watched kids play with the children's exhibits, trying hard not to move them out of the way and play with the exhibits yourself, you're in luck--this is exactly what it's for. We had a blast making giant bubbles and playing with blocks without worrying we were going to get kicked out.

If you want to have a fun day out, I totally recommend checking out Explora!

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

W is for Watermelon @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Sandia, in Spanish, translates to "watermelon". So, the pretty Sandia Mountains are really the Watermelon Mountains.

Why the odd name? 

Because, at sunset, the Sandias turn a lovely pink shade in the fading light. Sorry I don't have a picture of it (it only lasts a minute or two, and I'm often not near my phone), but here's a great shot of the mountains.

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

xoxo Sarah


Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Bonus V: Valency Genis Art @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge @Valency

So I decided to do this extra post because my friend, Valency, is a talented artist and because she lives in New Mexico, it's perfect for my A-Z Challenge theme!

Valency got her BFA degree at the University of New Mexico, and has been creating what she calls vegan taxidermy ever since. Her extraordinary pieces resemble, well, decapitated Dr. Seuss creatures, and each one is lovingly crafted to find their forever home. Some of her creations have gone to people from Pixar, and even Vincent Price's daughter took one home!

She recently had a very successful show in Chicago, and I know she's creating new creatures for some upcoming events. If you like her work, she ships all over the world.

Before I link to some pics of her amazing work, Valency can be found on Facebook here: https://www.facebook.com/ValencyArt/

And on Instagram and Twitter as @Valency






A photo posted by Valency Genis (@valency) on

xoxo Sarah

V is for Vino @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

No one was more surprised than me when I learned that New Mexico has vineyards.

Because the first thing I think of when I think "wine" is a dry, desert environment. Perfect for growing grapes, of course. /sarcasm

So, of course I had to sample some New Mexican wines to figure out exactly how bad--or good--they were.

Here were the contenders:

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

There was St. Clair Winery Cabernet Sauvignon and Blue Teal Reisling. I figured it would be good to have a red and a white. The third wine, a Moscato from Voluptuous, was purchased because it was as close to a dessert wine I could find.

Of course we had to have delicious snobby wine-tasting snacks.

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on


And now for the verdicts. Disclaimer: Neither of us are professional wine tasters; we normally just drink what we like. All opinions are our own--if we didn't like a wine, it doesn't mean it's bad. It just means it wasn't for us.

The St. Clair was, by far, not our favorite. I'll preface this by saying that neither of us are huge fans of red wine (though there are a few I've come across that I do enjoy), but neither of us thought the Cabernet had rich flavor or was enjoyable.

The Blue Teal Reisling, on the other hand, was very good! Surprisingly so. Hubs is a big fan of sweet wine, and this Reisling was a bit on the sweeter side (for a Reisling), so he was in heaven. I enjoyed it, but it almost bordered on dessert wine to me. I'd definitely get it again, though!

The Voluptuous Moscato was very sweet--definitely a dessert-like wine, but it's supposed to be. The flavor was good, and it was best chilled.

Summary: New Mexican wines are worth a try. Apparently an arid climate can produce tasty grapes! Who knew?

Have you ever had a wine from a surprising place? How about New Mexican wine? What did you think? Tell me in the comments!

xoxo Sarah


Monday, April 25, 2016

U is for University (UNM) @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

The main campus for the University of New Mexico, a large public university, is located right in Albuquerque. If you can't make it to the main campus, there are four satellite campuses around New Mexico.

It was founded in 1889, and is very close to Nob Hill and central Albuquerque. It offers more than 200 undergraduate degree programs, and offers a variety of associate and certificate programs as well as graduate and professional programs.

UNM is well-known for its research programs, and has a hospital associated with campus as well.

The UNM mascot is the Lobo (wolf), and their athletic teams play NCAA Division I in the Mountain West Conference.

We haven't seen any games yet, but it's definitely on our list! Hubs and I love college sports.

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, April 23, 2016

T is for Tram @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

One way to get to the top of the lovely Sandia Mountains is to take the tram. The Sandia Peak Tramway begins in the foothills at the base of the Sandias and runs over two and a half miles to the top. It's one of the most popular things to do in Albuquerque.

It's supported by two towers between the first and last station, and took two years to construct. It was built by a Swiss company in the 1960s, and made its first trip up in 1966. The journey takes about fifteen minutes each way, and each tram car has a guide on it who will talk you through what you're seeing--the landscape, the different rocks, the trees.

Picture from the Summer Tram Photo Gallery
There's even a restaurant at the very top, so you can stop and have something to eat and enjoy the gorgeous views.

From the top, you can get to the Sandia Peak ski area as well as hike various trails. The tram is also one of the outlets for the La Luz Trail we discussed on L, and a lot of folks take the tram down after they've hiked all the way up.

At any rate, this is one unique way to see New Mexico!

xoxo Sarah


Friday, April 22, 2016

S is for Sandia and Skiing! @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

The beautiful Sandia Mountains border Albuquerque on the eastern side. While Albuquerque itself is at about 5,500 feet in elevation, Sandia Crest is its highest point at 10,678 feet, and the mountains provide a lot to do.

Hiking is a popular activity, and from the Crest, you have breathtaking views of Albuquerque and beyond. There are over twenty trails, and they range from easy to very difficult, so there's plenty to satisfy every hiker.

Sandia Peak is also known for its skiing. The ski area is on the eastern side of the mountain, and is a short drive for those with the urge to enjoy some winter sports.


A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

xoxo Sarah




Thursday, April 21, 2016

R is for Rio Grande @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

The Rio Grande ("Grand River" or "Big River" in Spanish, in case you've never really thought about it) runs from Colorado into New Mexico and then forms the border between Mexico and Texas as it empties out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The Rio Grande runs through Albuquerque, and you can enjoy it in non-motorized craft. There's a lot of wildlife to see near the river, and the plant-life is green in the desert landscape.

There's even a Rio Grande Nature Park Center in northwest Albuquerque, which is worth a look!

See you next time for S! I hope you're enjoying the blogfest.

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Q is for Queso @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

As you've seen from H is for Hatch Chiles, they're the bee's knees in New Mexico and they're in everything here. Creme brulee, bagels, wine (no, I'm not kidding), and one friend even ordered a lobster roll with green chiles. Being from New England, she was not thrilled with the result, but that's not the point. The point is, New Mexicans love their chiles, even putting them in things that, well, probably shouldn't be tampered with.

But queso isn't one of them. It's made for Hatch chiles.

In the interest of finding a delicious restaurant-style queso dip you lovely readers can try, I tracked down two recipes on the interwebs (Pinterest, to be specific), and taste-tested them for you.

It's a tough job, but somebody's gotta do it.

Queso Recipe #1: Roasted Hatch Chile Queso Dip from Cook Like A Champion

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

First off, this recipe was very tasty! I got the American cheese from the deli (Boar's Head brand; I'm a bit of a deli snob), and the Monterrey Jack in a block from the regular 'ol cheese section which I took home and grated. I had everything prepped and sliced ahead of time which was good, because once we started, this dip came together quickly. I had a can of Hatch Green Chiles (whole), and there were probably 10 of them in the can, already skinned and seeded. They'd actually be perfect for stuffing, but that's for another time. Anyway, I chopped up two of them, and I think this recipe could actually use a third. These were very mild, but had a nice, sweet flavor to them. I was actually a little disappointed that it didn't have more heat and wasn't quiiiite as flavorful as I'd expected. The dip thickened very quickly once it was off the heat, and we microwaved it the next day (adding about a tablespoon of milk to thin it out and microwaving it in 30 second intervals, stirring after each) and it was just as good.

Queso Recipe #2: Roasted Hatch Chile Queso Dip from The Wicked Noodle

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on


Though the other queso dip was good, this one was the clear winner! It had a stronger chile flavor (it uses 3 chiles instead of 2), and we thought it would be even better with another chile added. The Mexican cheese blend was better as well. It was very thick while mixing, but thinned out readily when the half-and-half was added. It also didn't firm up so much as it cooled that you couldn't dip a chip, a complaint we had about the first recipe.

Time for me to go warm some up and enter another cheese coma!

What's your favorite queso?

xoxo Sarah


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

P is for Petroglyph National Monument @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Picture from Wikipedia
Petroglyph National Monument falls under the National Park Service, and stretches along Albuquerque, New Mexico's west mesa. As the NPS website says, "Petroglyph National Monument protects on of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved into volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago. These images are a valuable record of cultural expression and hold profound spiritual significance for contemporary Native Americans and for the descendants of the early Spanish settlers."

There's a visitor's center, but there aren't any petroglyph viewing areas there, so you'll have to go to the trails, which you can hike.

There are three trails where you can see petroglyphs and one without any. It's very neat to be able to be up close and personal with such vivid history.

xoxo Sarah



Monday, April 18, 2016

O is for October: Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge

Considered to be the most photographed event in the world, the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest ballooning event in the U.S. and is held every October.

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

The Fiesta has many events, including mass ascensions, special shapes, and even special events and competitions.

What makes ballooning in Albuquerque so good? It's what's known as the Albuquerque box--predictable wind patterns that are great for ballooning. Below is a diagram of how the winds in the Albuquerque box work from Balloon Fiesta Park. The balloons rise and are taken south by southerly winds, then rise and are swept north in the higher altitude by northerly winds. When they drop in altitude, they are caught by the southerly winds again which bring them back to the park.

Pic from Wikipedia

Of course, things don't always go so neatly, so each balloon has pilots and crew. This includes people to keep track of and chase the balloons down and help load them back up after landing.

If you visit, going up in a balloon can be quite expensive (during the Fiesta they're more expensive and run about $300 per person, give or take) but it might be worth it if it's on your bucket list!

Otherwise, enjoy the festival and the colorful balloons.

xoxo Sarah



Saturday, April 16, 2016

N is for Nob Hill #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z @abqnobhill

Nob Hill in Albuquerque is actually named after Nob Hill in San Francisco, and is considered to be the commercial area alongside Central Avenue (which we discussed on C day as also being U.S. Route 66) and the surrounding residential areas. Nob Hill is east of the University of New Mexico, and encompasses a roughly square shape that runs from Lomas on the north side, Girard on the west, Garfield/Zuni to the south, and Washington on the east.

Nob Hill (which turns 100 this year) is a vibrant community filled with locally-owned shops and restaurants. Events are often held along Central (like Route 66 Summerfest).

It's a great place to enjoy a small-community feel in a city, and a wonderful place to enjoy a night out, whether you want to go to the cinema, go dancing, or enjoy a nice meal out.


A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on


Stay tuned for O!

xoxo Sarah

Friday, April 15, 2016

M is for Museum (Nuclear Science & History) #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

The National Museum of Nuclear Science & History (yes, I'm aware it technically starts with N, but I'm taking liberties here) is located in Albuquerque, and is a great way to spend some time.

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

We've gone once so far and we had a great time. It's easy to get to, has plenty of parking, and, best of all, is very interesting.

When we visited, there was a Modern Marvels from the History Channel show that they broadcast in the little theater. It was about 45 minutes long, and gave a great history of the Manhattan Project and nuclear science in general. It was worth watching before we went and explored the rest of the museum because we found we recognized names, locations, and dates from the show as we walked around.

The museum itself isn't huge, but it's laid out in a way that makes it easy to explore. There are interactive and kid-friendly areas scattered about and not one large kid area--great to hold their interest as you all walk through. The exhibits are labeled well and are often in chronological order, so you can follow nuclear history through...history.

There are special exhibitions as well, so check their website to see what's there.

I'd definitely go back, and I'd encourage anyone visiting Albuquerque to budget half a day or so to this fun museum.

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, April 14, 2016

L is for La Luz Trail #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Picture from Wikipedia
The La Luz Trail is an approximately 8 mile hiking trail that leads from the base of the Sandia Mountains to Sandia Crest.

It's a strenuous trail and folks attempting it should be in appropriate physical condition. Be sure to leave enough time to do the loop (or take the tram down), bring plenty of water and snacks, and to wear proper gear.

It offers lovely views of Albuquerque and the surrounding area.

No, we haven't done the trail yet, but it's on our list of things to explore!

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

K is for Kirtland AFB #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Kirtland Air Force Base is a big part of Albuquerque. It's in the southeast part of the city, and adjacent to Albuquerque International Sunport (the airport).

It was born out of three private airfields in the late 1920s, and actual construction was completed in the early 1940s. Before it was named for Col. Roy C. Kirtland, it was known as Albuquerque Army Air Base. During WWII, B-17 and B-24 bombers were trained there. After the war, the base was placed under a different command and took up the task of test flight activities for the Manhattan Engineering District, the same organization that produced the atomic bomb.

In 1973, Kirtland enlarged due to the combining of Kirtland, Manzano, and Sandia bases.

Kirtland is also celebrating its 75th anniversary this year!

It's currently the sixth largest base in the U.S. Air Force, and is known for being home to the Nuclear Weapons Center, and is also home to other well-known research facilities such as Sandia National Laboratories.

Stay tuned for N!

xoxo Sarah


Tuesday, April 12, 2016

J is for Jackrabbit #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

New Mexico has a variety of interesting wildlife in general, including Black-Tailed Jackrabbits which inhabit a good portion of the state.

Picture from Wikipedia

Even stranger, though, is that New Mexico--the southern bit, anyway--is home to jaguars. They're extremely rare, but they are listed as a native species.

So, of all the interesting things that can kill you on your outdoor explorations--snakes, falling, etc.--fierce felines are also on the list. They're not common, though, because most of New Mexico is dry and desert-y, and jaguars prefer places with trees. So just watch out for the mountain lions and you'll be all set.

xoxo Sarah

Monday, April 11, 2016

I is for Isotopes Baseball #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

One nice thing about Albuquerque is that they have a Minor League Baseball team! The Isotopes are part of the Pacific Coast League and are the Triple-A affiliate of the Colorado Rockies.

Albuquerque Isotopes logo from Wikipedia

Albuquerque and New Mexico is often associated with nuclear research and technology (Sandia National Labs, Los Alamos, and the Manhattan Project), the name is very appropriate. And the Isotopes do have an interesting connection with The Simpsons television show.

They play at Isotopes Park, and in 2016 they have their home opener on Friday, April 15th.

While not being huge baseball fans (it's a snoozer to watch on TV, in my opinion), the Isotopes games are a lot of fun to go to. There's a good variety of food to eat, and they have some fun giveaways and theme nights.

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, April 9, 2016

H is for Hatch Chiles #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

If you talk to anyone who's lived in New Mexico, the chile season (which runs each fall) begins and ends with Hatch.

Hatch is an area (the Hatch Valley, and the village of Hatch) that grows New Mexico green chile (no, they're not jalapenos--they're their own thing, and a specific type, of which there are several varieties).

The green chiles are sharper in flavor and have more front heat, while the ripe red ones tend to have a more complex flavor and less front heat but more back heat.

In the late summer and early fall, the chile harvest begins. You'll start to see crates of Hatch chiles showing up in grocery stores, and there will be chile roasting areas, too, where if you get a certain amount, you can get them roasted for free.

If you can't get to New Mexico to get some fresh roasted chile or to the Hatch Chile Festival in early September, Hatch does sell it online.

Picture from Hatch Chile Co website
In restaurants where New Mexican cuisine is served, you'll be asked, "Red, green, or Christmas?" They're asking you whether you want red chile sauce, green chile sauce, or both (Christmas) on your meal. I prefer the red chile myself, and I'll often get it on the side, because your food usually comes smothered in it. It's also a good idea to ask your server how hot the chile is that day, because it can be tough to control the heat--probably the luck of the draw for which chiles the chef gets that day.

If I have a recommendation from their website, it's to get the Sadie's Not As Hot salsa. Sadie's is a restaurant started in Albuquerque (they have a few locations) and the food is delicious. Their in-house salsa has a good kick to it, and their Not As Hot salsa does as well, but not as much.

If you're ever in New Mexico, the chile is a must.

xoxo Sarah

Friday, April 8, 2016

G is for Gambling #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Casinos aren't uncommon in New Mexico, and, like many in the U.S., a good number are run by Native Americans on their lands.

There are a few in Albuquerque itself, but a good number are outside of the cities on the Pueblos. Santa Fe has quite a few nearby as well.

As with most casinos, you'll encounter plenty of gambling but also buffets, restaurants, and shows. If you're looking for something a little different, or to see a concert, they might be a good bet.

xoxo Sarah


Thursday, April 7, 2016

F is for 505 #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

New Mexico actually has two area codes: 575 and 505.

The 505 dates back to being one of the original area codes established in 1947.

Due to the demand for new numbers, the 575 was created in 2007. It actually covers more of the state, but the areas with higher populations are still under 505.

Still, the state had one area code for so long that "The 505" is considered a slang term for New Mexico.

Picture from Wikipedia
xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

E is for Enchantment #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

New Mexico has a pretty fabulous nickname: Land of Enchantment. Surprisingly, it only became the official nickname in 1999.

What makes the nickname so great is that it encompasses so much of the state's history and landscape. Not only does New Mexico have stunning views (enchanting, perhaps?), but it was inhabited by indigenous peoples for a long time before Europeans explored the New World.

The gorgeous scenery combined with the rich history of many peoples combines to make a truly enchanting place.


A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

xoxo Sarah

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

D is for Desert (High Desert Climate, to be precise) #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Albuquerque's climate is considered to be high desert. It has extremely low humidity levels, which makes even the heat of the summer where temperatures average about 90 degrees F bearable. At night in the summer, it's not uncommon for temperatures to swing lower by 40 or 50 degrees--if you go out, layers are a must.

Winter is dry for the most part, and definitely colder--sometimes just a sweatshirt will be adequate, and other times you'll need to bundle up. They do get snow, but it's more common in the Sandias.

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

Spring and autumn are more temperate, with pleasant temperatures and lovely weather.

Some folks ask if the weather is like it is in Arizona, and the answer is no, at least not in ABQ, because of the elevation. It doesn't get nearly as hot for as long as in a city like Phoenix, for example.

The elevation makes things challenging for some people--the city is at around 5,000 feet in elevation, but that goes up to about 6,500 in the Sandia foothills. If you're not used to the elevation, due to the thinner air, you might experience headaches and light-headedness during physical activity. Make sure to drink plenty of water--I've taken to carrying around a refillable bottle wherever I go. To feel "normal" here, it took me about four months. Before that, I didn't have headaches, but I did feel winded when carrying heavy things and going up stairs. I tired quickly when exercising, which was sometimes frustrating, but my body wasn't used to the limited oxygen.

Albuquerque averages over 300 days of sunshine (I've seen some estimates as high as 330 days per year), and UV rays are also stronger at higher altitudes, so definitely wear some sunscreen to avoid getting a sunburn. I wear a moisturizer with SPF in it each day.

xoxo Sarah


Monday, April 4, 2016

C is for Central Ave (US Route 66) #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

The place where the song says you can get your kicks runs right through Albuquerque!

Pic from Wikipedia

Historic highway U.S. Route 66 is better known as Central Avenue in ABQ. It runs concurrently with I40 through a good chunk of the state, but in Albuquerque it's a centerpiece.

Along Central Ave, you can find plenty of unique restaurants and even the UNM campus. The city has made an effort to embrace the historical route, and often you'll see signage that reminds you of the 1950s and 1960s. 

Pic from Wikipedia
If you get a chance to make a road trip through New Mexico, check it out if you have a chance!

On to D tomorrow.

xoxo Sarah

Saturday, April 2, 2016

B is for Breaking Bad #AtoZChallenge #BreakingBad @AprilA2Z @BreakingBad_AMC

Breaking Bad is, probably, and I'm not exaggerating, one of the best-written television shows I've seen in a long time. I almost did an "Awesome Writing in Media" feature on it, but figured I could do this first.

Full disclosure--hubs and I didn't watch it when it aired; we binged on it from start to finish over a period of a couple weeks recently. Thank you, Netflix.

Because when we moved to Albuquerque, most of the time the first question out of someone's mouth was, "Have you seen Breaking Bad?" So it was mandatory viewing. "Yeah, bitch!" as Jesse Pinkman would say.

Even only having been sort-of familiar with the city (we've lived in New Mexico since last summer), it was evident that the location was its own character on the show. No, it didn't overshadow Walter White or Jesse Pinkman, but the city shone in its own way. I'm one of those people who Googles stuff about shows afterward--trivia, filming locations, etc.--and one thing was that it was almost filmed in LA, but New Mexico offered attractive tax breaks. While that's obviously a good reason to film a big-budget show not in Los Angeles, I can't imagine Breaking Bad would have been as awesome if it had been set somewhere with less character.

Imagine it--no gorgeous Sandias in the background while driving a Pontiac Aztec. No scrubby desert in which to drive your meth-lab-RV out to cook. No Grove Cafe [link has spoilers!] for chamomile tea with stevia. No car wash.

A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on

Notes:
--The car wash is Mister Car Wash now, but the address is the same. We've been there--they do a good job. It's been remodeled, but there are pictures of the cast on the walls. They embrace the tourism!
--We went to The Grove in 2011--the food is great but it tends to get very busy and parking can be a nightmare. Have patience.
--I have no comment about RV meth labs, but we have seen a few oddly-placed ones when we road-tripped to Colorado...

It's been a fun experience to watch the show and point out places we recognized. There are filming location tours in the area (one even has an RV that they take you around in), but most are easy to find if you look them up in the interwebs. But please don't throw pizzas on the roof of the White's house. It's just not polite.

See you next time for C!

xoxo Sarah


Friday, April 1, 2016

A is for Albuquerque #AtoZChallenge @AprilA2Z

Albuquerque--New Mexico's largest city (but not the capital--that's Santa Fe), is probably best known to most folks due to a certain cartoon rabbit's wrong turn.



But it's so much more than that. It's relatively in the middle of the state, and sits at about 5,000-6,000 feet above sea level. The population of the area is a bit over half a million people.

Bordered by the Sandia Mountains on the eastern side and sloping down westward, the sunrises and sunsets are something to behold. The scenery is lovely--yes, it's mostly brown, but there's something beautiful about it.

There's a lot to do, a lot to see, and so. Much. To. Eat.

So instead of making that left turn at Albuquerque, stop by for a bit.

I'll be hitting a lot of Albuquerque stuff in the coming days as well as New Mexico as a whole. I hope you enjoy my A-Z Challenge posts!


A photo posted by Sarah Allan (@sarahallanauthor) on


xoxo Sarah

Friday, March 25, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Roasted Asparagus #vegetarian

This is the last Foodie Friday I'll be doing for a few weeks due to my participation in the April A-Z Blogging Challenge, so I wanted to give you guys something easy.
Picture from Simply Stacie

Springtime is prime asparagus season, and nothing is more awesome than simply prepared vegetables.

In this case, Simply Stacie has the answer: Roasted Asparagus.

My personally favorite way to prepare asparagus is to grill it, but this recipe is more universal in that most of us have an oven but not everyone has a grill.

Basically, trimmed asparagus+olive oil+ salt & pepper and you're done. She uses garlic, which I think would also be fabulous, but I haven't used it when I've made this recipe yet. I'm lazy like that.

10 minutes in a 450 degree F oven, stirring/turning once at the halfway mark, and BOOM.

Such an easy side.

I hope you guys tune in for my A-Z Challenge posts!

xoxo Sarah

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Important news! Blog migration soon (please read!)

Hey, everyone! I just wanted to share some news--I'm having my website re-designed, and my blog will be migrating to another platform. Currently it's on Blogger, but I'm having it ported over to a Wordpress one. I've found that Wordpress is much easier for designers to work with.

When is this happening? Probably some time in May or June. I'm participating in the April A-Z Challenge again this year, and it won't be until after the challenge is over that the blog will be migrated.

What does that mean for you? I'll post about this at least once more (probably twice) before my blog is migrated, including a big FINAL POST post. I'll also include the link to my "new" one so you can follow it there.

I'm really excited about having the website and blog makeover, and I'm hoping you'll love it, too!

xoxo Sarah

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Guest Post: Rumer Haven on Film Inspiration for What the Clocks Know @RumerHaven


Thanks so much for hosting me, Sarah!

As an avid reader, I've had many literary inspirations for my writing. But as a film buff, movies make their way into my stories, too! Here are just a few that influenced What the Clocks Know:

1. Enchantment (1948) - Starring David Niven, this black-and-white classic did indeed enchant me with its graceful cinematography and delicate storytelling. I adore past-present stories and am perpetually contemplating the different lives that have existed in the same spaces. So this film immediately struck a chord, as it follows a single London household through the generations. It was based on Rumer Godden's novel Take Three Tenses: A Fugue in Time, which is equally lovely (and yes, that Rumer is my namesake!). My protagonist Margot actually watches the film during one scene, and it's Enchantment's opening narration that inspired my book's title.     

  2. Vertigo (1958) - Starring Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak, this Hitchcock classic is a haunting psychological tale as Stewart's character descends into madness and obsession. But while my Margot spirals into her own depression, her experience more so parallels Novak's character and the tragically beautiful trances she slips into as though possessed by a troubled spirit from the past.

  3. The Others (2001) - Speaking of Alfred Hitchcock, this contemporary ghost story (starring Nicole Kidman) embodies his less-is-more approach to suspense. Forget in-your-face ghouls and gore--this is the kind of storytelling that scares the crap out me. The subtle and offscreen, not the explicit. The kind that leaves more to our imagination, which we don't give enough credit these days. And with an added psychological element that makes us and the characters question our perceptions, this is the kind of ghost story I wanted to tell, too.   

  4. Dead Again (1991) - Starring the then-married Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh, this movie has the basic essence of what I've always loved in a story: plots that traverse time, connecting the living with the dead as those in the present try to uncover secrets from the past to make sense of their identity and what's happening to them now. Throw in hypnosis and a little Robin Williams in that wise-sage role that he used to play so well, and you've got a haunting, entertaining little mystery/thriller that I loved as a teenager, anyway. :)

  5. Before Sunrise (1995) - Starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy, this indie favorite of mine is such a great example of how you don't need major action and other bells and whistles to tell an authentic and engaging story. Before Sunrise's characters first meet on a train and then simply wander through Vienna and talk, exploring unfamiliar sights and streets while their conversations range from the flirty and trivial to the weighty and existential. This suits Margot as she also finds herself in a new city and contemplates what she wants in life with unfamiliar people against an unfamiliar backdrop.    So that's the sort of cinema that I'm drawn to, and consequently the kind of story I like to tell. I recommend watching any and all of them when you're not otherwise reading What the Clocks Know. ;)
~ * ~
About What the Clocks Know: Finding a ghost isn't what Margot had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow her future may depend on Charlotte's past. Woven between 21st-century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity. A paranormal women's fiction, this title is available as of March 18, 2016 from Crooked Cat Publishing. "A unique tale of the paranormal – as beautiful as it is haunting." ~ Shani Struthers, author of Jessamine and the Psychic Surveys series

 
** Add it! **
** Read it! **
~ * ~
Author Bio:
Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.

Learn more about Rumer at: Website - http://www.rumerhaven.com Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven Twitter - @RumerHaven


Monday, March 21, 2016

And my @AprilA2Z #AtoZChallenge theme is...

Since we now call the Southwest home, I decided that this year I'll be doing our new city and any surrounding things that catch my eye.

So, my official theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is......


NEW MEXICO! 

Pic from Wikipedia

I hope you all enjoy my posts in the coming month! C'mon back in another week or so for awesomeness from the Land of Enchantment.

xoxo Sarah

Friday, March 18, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Blackberry Sage Pork Chops

My poor husband and I share the same aversion to pork chops, though if you ask him, he's suffered worse.

Picture from Budget Bytes
Tortured by family who served dry, stringy, overcooked pieces of pork smothered in applesauce (his) or apples and sauerkraut (mine), I rarely bought them in order to save us both from food-related PTSD.

Pork tenderloin, on the other hand, enjoys a healthy rotation in our repertoire. And no, I don't overcook it. I pay close attention to the thermometer, thank you very much.

But this delicious recipe from Budget Bytes for Blackberry Sage Pork Chops has changed our tune.

I've made this recipe a couple of times; the first was with pork tenderloin I had in the freezer (cut into medallions), and the second was with pork chops as prescribed.

Though the recipe itself is very cost-conscious and uses simple ingredients--most of which you probably have in your pantry already--the amazing sauce is sweet and savory and makes you feel like you're eating a restaurant meal.

Just follow the directions and you're golden. If you're like me and ended up with pork tenderloin to use instead, thaw it if frozen and cut into medallions about an inch thick. Then proceed with the recipe as it's written. It'll be fabulous!

The biggest hurdle was, oddly, finding blackberry jam. I scoured the whole shelf and was only able to find a couple of brands, whereas most of the selection was strawberry, raspberry, grape, and a few others. I think, though, if you're in a pinch, you could probably use raspberry and it would come out very well.

If you're looking for a cost-conscious way to jazz up dinner, this is it!

xoxo Sarah




Rumer Haven's What the Clocks Know is OUT! @RumerHaven

NEW RELEASE!
Released March 18, 2016
Paranormal Women's Fiction
~ * ~
Summary: Twenty-six-year-old Margot sets out on a journey of self-discovery – she dumps her New York boyfriend, quits her Chicago job, and crashes at her friend’s flat in London. Rather than find herself, though, she only feels more lost. An unsettling energy affects her from the moment she enters the old Victorian residence, and she spirals into depression. Frightened and questioning her perceptions, she gradually suspects her dark emotions belong to Charlotte instead. Who is Charlotte? The name on a local gravestone could relate to Margot’s dreams and the grey woman weeping at the window. Finding a ghost isn't what she had in mind when she went ‘soul searching’, but somehow Margot's future may depend on Charlotte's past. Woven between 21st century and Victorian London, What the Clocks Know is a haunting story of love and identity.
** Add it! **
** Read it! **
Barnes & Noble - http://bit.ly/1Qsj1Tr
Smashwords - http://bit.ly/1Qsj69I
~ * ~
Author Bio:
Rumer Haven is probably the most social recluse you could ever meet. When she’s not babbling her fool head off among friends and family, she’s pacified with a good story that she’s reading, writing, or revising—or binge-watching something on Netflix. A former teacher hailing from Chicago, she presently lives in London with her husband and probably a ghost or two. Rumer has always had a penchant for the past and paranormal, which inspires her writing to explore dimensions of time, love, and the soul. She debuted in 2014 with Seven for a Secret (in which a Jazz Age tragedy haunts a modern woman’s love life), and her award-winning short story “Four Somethings & a Sixpence” (about a bride who gets a little something she didn’t register for) was released in 2015. What the Clocks Know is her second novel.
Learn more about Rumer at: Website - http://www.rumerhaven.com Facebook - http://www.facebook.com/rumerhaven Twitter - @RumerHaven

Friday, March 11, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Skillet Chocolate Chip Cookie

This cookie. Martha Stewart knew what she was doing.

Oh man.
Picture via Martha Stewart's website.

If I didn't have a good idea I'd make myself sick, I'd make this and eat the whole thing.

Besides serving about 8 people (fewer, most likely...), this cookie is absolutely gorgeous. It fills the cast iron skillet and looks so pretty. As if you needed another reason to use your 10-inch skillet.

Served straight from the oven (with a few minutes to cool so you don't sacrifice your poor burned mouth), it's gooey and satisfying.

It's perfect for scooping a bit of your favorite ice cream over, too.

And it doesn't get any better for parties--who wouldn't want to bring this out to the table!

Even better, it's not difficult to make. It comes together in a snap and you can enjoy your party, or enjoy making everyone else clean up while you eat the whole thing.

I won't judge.

xoxo Sarah




Friday, March 4, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Salisbury Steak Meatballs with Onion Gravy #comfortfood

I can't believe I missed last Friday's post, but no matter.  This week's will make up for it.

I've made these yummy Salisbury Steak Meatballs by Jo Cooks twice now, and both times they were a big hit with both hubs and me. The meat is flavorful; the gravy is delicious, and it's a must-serve with mashed potatoes and a good veggie. In the picture, you can see that I made roasted asparagus to go with it. 

This ain't no TV dinner Salisbury steak!

There are a good amount of leftovers (4 day's worth if there are two of you, so approximately 8 servings total), and they're even better as time goes on.

Some tips I've picked up--with this recipe, make patties, not meatballs. I did meatballs the first time, and they were very soft and didn't keep their shape, making them impossible to turn to brown when in the pan. Epic fail. I got frustrated (might be a slight understatement--I think I threw a not-very-adultlike fit that my poor husband had to witness), ended up squishing them into something resembling taco filling, then scooped the meat out and finished the gravy as directed. It tasted fine and all, but it wasn't pretty, nor did I get the nice browned fond on the bottom of the skillet as I'd wanted. The second time I'd learned my lesson--I made flat patties about the size of my palm. I think I got nine patties out of the meat mixture. This worked much better! They were easy to flip with my spatula, and I got the nice dark brown crust that I needed to make the gravy extra good. That's one patty on top of my mashed 'taters in the picture.

For leftovers, though, the rest of the meat and gravy went into a container, and we've been scooping out our desired servings that way. Add some additional stock (I used chicken stock in both the main recipe and when I re-warmed it; it's what I usually have open in my fridge) to make the meat and gravy serve-able again, and heat in a saucepan. It ends up kind of like Shepherd's Pie filling (really Cottage Pie because of the beef, but whatever), but it tastes the same.

As I mentioned above, I used chicken stock for the gravy. It says either chicken or beef, and I almost always have an open container of chicken stock in the fridge already, so that's what I used.

Mashed potatoes (either regular or mashed sweets) are my side of choice, along with a roasted vegetable or salad.

Even better, this whole thing comes together in about 30-45 minutes from start to finish, and, because of the leftovers, actually can save you time the next day. So it's a comfort food meal worth making.

What do you think?

xoxo Sarah


Monday, February 29, 2016

Need a good editor? I'm now accepting clients! #amediting #editing #amwriting #freelance

Hey, everyone! Happy Monday and happy leap year!

Since it's such a unique day, I thought I'd make an announcement.

I'm now accepting editing clients! Woo hoo!

Nothing makes an impression--good or bad--on readers like having a book that has been improperly edited. Don't skimp on this step; hooking lifelong readers and getting good reviews depends on it.

Who can pass up an opportunity for #editorcat to use her Purple Pen of Doom on your work?
She's cute and ruthless.

For a list of what I do, there's more information here on my blog (never noticed that little "editing" tab on top, did ya?) and at my Facebook fan page: https://www.facebook.com/sarahallanauthor/ so check those out for a round-up of my services.

But if you're interested in something you don't see listed, feel free to hit me up anyway and we'll chat about it. For example, I have corporate clients for whom I edit drafts of letters and web content.

In a nutshell, if you're interested in my services, please contact me through my FB page via a message, or through email at: sarahallanauthor@gmail.com and I'll get back to you ASAP.

xoxo Sarah




Friday, February 19, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Brown Sugar Mustard Chicken

There are a lot of chicken recipes out there. It's a popular meat; I get it. We eat a lot of chicken, too. But sometimes you come across one that shakes things up a bit and makes your mouth super happy.

I'm including this chicken recipe for a couple of reasons--one, because it's absolutely delicious, and two, because my dad is somehow convinced I'm withholding it and keeps asking for it every time we talk.
Photo from Taste and Tell

Yes, I've given it to both him and my mother. Multiple times.

No, I'm not holding it hostage. This is proof.

I first came across this recipe in Taste of Home magazine but was able to find it online here, at Taste and Tell.

For those of you who are skeptical about or aren't a huge fan of chicken thighs, they're necessary to use. They're meatier in flavor and stay juicier on the grill. Breasts just wouldn't hold up to the flavorful, savory sauce.

The chicken is best grilled, but I've made it baked in a pinch (put in a single layer in a baking dish or on a sheet pan and give it 25-30 minutes at 400 degrees or so). It comes out saucier, but still delicious.

And double the sauce. You won't regret it.

The leftovers are out of this world, too--since some sauce is kept to the side, it's great spread over them the next day, or right off the grill.

It's a good recipe for a crowd, too. It doubles or triples with the same results, providing you have a big enough vessel to hold all the chicken while you grill it in batches.

What to serve on the side? I like mashed sweet potato and grilled asparagus.

Let me know if you've tried this recipe!

xoxo Sarah


Friday, February 5, 2016

#FoodieFriday: Hawaiian Ham & Swiss Sliders #SuperBowl #appetizer #brunch

I can't believe I almost missed this week! And with Super Bowl Sunday coming up, I couldn't resist sharing one of my favorite appetizer/finger foods. Go, sports!

Before I get to this Friday's food, if you're vegetarian or want to bring something to a Super Bowl party that everyone will enjoy, try my Black Bean Hummus. Trust me--it's fantastic. Bring some blue corn tortilla chips and have at it!

Now for this week's: You've probably heard of them if you haven't already eaten them--Hawaiian rolls stuffed with ham and Swiss cheese and covered in buttery oniony poppy-seedy deliciousness.

Picture from A Musing Foodie
There are two main recipes I've seen, like this one from A Musing Foodie, and this one from the actual King's Hawaiian website

The one from A Musing Foodie is the one I've seen and made myself (the recipe can be cut in half but it's nice to have the large recipe just in case).

There is no downside to these little sandwiches other than how fast they disappear.

As for positives, well...

--You can use whatever ham you like: Virginia, regular, smoked...I'm not sure I'd use one of the very sweet varieties, though (like honey ham) but that's personal preference.

--If you're not in the U.S. and can't get the Hawaiian rolls, just pick up a package of small dinner rolls. When we were in England, I wouldn't have hesitated to use fresh dinner rolls from Tesco--but I would have gotten the mini-ones, not the full-sized rolls. Too big.

--They transport well. After you bake them, just put some foil on them and go! You can assemble them beforehand and bake them when you arrive (they take about 25-30 minutes) if you like as well, but don't worry if you bake them ahead of time.....

--Which leads me to the next big positive--they can be served warm, or room temperature. They're fantastic either way. So no hot plates, no crock pot, no keeping them covered in foil so they stay warm. Just put them out and watch the crowds descend on them like sharks on a surfer.

--If they all don't get eaten (hahahaha), they make great leftovers. I've had them the next day out of the fridge (maybe microwave them for 30 seconds-1 minute first?) and they're just as good.

--They're not just for game-day snacks. I've served them at brunches, and they're always a big hit. They straddle that is-it-breakfast-or-is-it-lunch line so well it's a crime to not have them on hand.

--Kids can help assemble. If you don't want them handling knives or hot stuff, just cut the rolls first and have them put the ham and cheese on them. You can do the butter sauce and oven bit.

Have you had these little sandwiches? What are you having for Super Bowl snacks? Some ham-and-Swiss sliders and black bean hummus, perhaps? Let me know your menu!

xoxo Sarah